Washington: Researchers at University of Bonn claim that they have found an ‘altruism gene’ that makes people more charitable.
People with this change gave twice as much money on average to a charitable cause as did other study subjects.
Professor Dr. Martin Reuter and his colleagues asked participants were to memorize series of numbers and then repeat them as correctly as possible –for which they would receive five Euros – which they could either take home or donate.
DNA swabs taken pre-test were analysed and the team focused on one gene that contains the building instructions for an enzyme, which inactivates certain messengers in the brain – the most well known of these messengers is dopamine.
"Students with the COMT-Val gene donated twice as much money on average as did fellow students with the COMT-Met variant", explained Reuter.
The reason why the Bonn scientists focused their analysis on the COMT gene: For several years, it has been known that dopamine is involved in controlling social behaviour in animals and humans. Thus the messenger, together with substances such as the neuropeptide vasopressin, influences sexuality and bonding.
In addition, dopamine is linked with positive emotionality. Even the characteristic of being motivated by stimuli is controlled by this important neurotransmitter.
The study is published in Neuroscience.